Federal and private grants can represent a significant funding resource for local governments and municipalities. They can help fund exciting new projects and enrich communities without burdening already tight budgets. These grants, however, often go uncollected by the very communities that need them most.
Grant writing is a difficult process. For smaller local governments, there can be a lack of resources or information on how to successfully navigate it. Larger organizations spend sizable amounts of money on professional grant writers and proposal experts to capitalize on available grants. This option is not always feasible for local governments.
However, there are simple steps that local governments and municipalities of any size can take to ensure a better chance of grant funding. One of the most important parts of a grant proposal will be the associated proposal budget. The proper preparation of a budget for any proposed grant project can easily turn a “maybe” project into a “probably” project for the grant maker.
Here are some important tips for persuasive budgeting:
Be specific: Guidelines may vary from grant to grant, but being specific with budget items and presenting calculations in worksheets for listed dollar figures will keep things transparent. Grant makers, like citizens, love transparency.
Stay inside the lines: It is imperative to not stray from the provided guidelines for any grant. Keeping budget allocations, such as the overhead and fringe benefits, within the acceptable range will save time on unnecessary revisions and increase receptiveness from grant makers.
Estimate Accurately: Don’t be too liberal or conservative with your estimates on project costs. The project must be able to operate under the proposed budget without necessitating additional funds from the donor. However, overestimating costs can reflect poorly on your budgeting ability and hurt reception of any future proposal budgets. There is no need to be perfect, but be consistent and reasonable in judging costs.
Have a Narrative: Budget narratives are useful in explaining listed items. Once again, it is best to be transparent by explaining why and how a particular dollar amount is being applied. Depending on how unusual the item is, the budget narrative can be included in a footer-style or in a more extensive straight text explanation.
The grant proposal process is a daunting one that may deter many local governments and municipalities from getting access to available funds. However, with some attentive budgeting, the process can easily become a more plausible, less painful resource for bettering your community.